[LAU] re Subconscious Affecting Music

Paul Davis paul at linuxaudiosystems.com
Mon Aug 30 22:45:58 UTC 2010

On Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 4:39 PM,  <fons at kokkinizita.net> wrote:

> But yes, the early 20th century was surely a turning point in Western science
> and culture - mathematics and physics went through a crisis and came out
> stronger than ever, and in the arts - not only music - everything was turned
> over and the outcome of this is still unsure.

but mathematics and science's forward path is presumably in the
direction of some kind of "truth", whether one believes in a platonic
universe or not. in both cases, even if we cannot define "truth", we
can establish metrics by which to judge the motion of math and
science, the most obvious one being the simplistic test of "does it
work better as a support for our manipulation of the physical world?"

its not clear whether the arts have any forward trajectory at all, so
trying to identify a particular period or a particular outcome as
"ahead", "backwards", etc. seems a little odd. is the american
minimalism of the late 1960s onwards progress compared to baroque
counterpoint? is wagner progress compared to perotin?

to me the most obvious thing that has happened to "music" since the
mid-twentieth century is the fetishization of *sound* itself. adorno
has quite a responsibility there, but his philosophical musings on
this were supported and extended by composers across europe and the
US, and have found a fertile breeding ground even within the context
of modern popular music. most of the great art of humanity seems to me
to have emerged from a dynamic in which chaos and control interact in
very complex ways; the "serious art" of the late twentieth century
seemed keen to see what would happen with more chaos and less control.
but the "serious art" world is, thankfully, just one of many we have
to choose from; as xenakis was messing around with stochastic music,
cage with indeterminism, lots of people with serialism, stockhausen
with whatever we want to call stockhausen's work and so forth, we had
the jazz world, the world of carnatic music from india, african
polyrhythmic music and many other traditions engaged in a continuation
of the fine balance between chaos and control. we ended up with some
absolutely awesome art, and it had very, very little to do with
anything going on in the serious/academic world of "western art
music", and very little to do with with fetishization of sound itself
that seems to have been the hallmark of the western art music of the
last 50-60 years. if i hear one more piece that wants me to marvel at
the *SHEER JUXTAPOSITION* of this versus that, i think i'm going to

thankfully, we've got a generation fo composers now who haven't even
read adorno, and feel free to draw their influences from an enormous,
global selection. is this an eclectism that has "little power to
survive", or a vibrant source of compost and nutrition for a field
that would otherwise be on the verge of a monoculture die-off ?

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